Imagine traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 45 minutes or less. With these conceptual Hyperloop trains, that could be a reality. The Hyperloop train system is a vacuum-sealed tube that allows for transporting people and cargo at high speeds. The vacuum-sealed tubes are similar to those used in pneumatic tubes, but they are much larger.
The imagined future of the Hyperloop isn’t all that different from the World Metro Map, designed in 2003 by Mark Ovenden. It imagines what a global underground system could look like, which would only be viable with technology like the Hyperloop. The map below only includes cities with metro systems or cities that have planned metro systems as of 2008. The data is older, but the map is awe-inspiring. Could you imagine traveling around the world without talking to the sky? It may (at this point) be a pipe dream, but I’m here for it if it happens in our lifetime. Speaking of which, the Hyperloop is something that needs to exist for any world metro exists. Is it ever going to happen?
First Of All, What Is The Hyperloop Train?
The Hyperloop train system was first proposed by Elon Musk in 2013. He described it as a “cross between a Concorde, rail gun and an air hockey table.” He wanted to build a system that could connect Los Angeles and San Francisco and carry passengers at speeds of up to 760 mph (1,220 km/h). (1)
The Hyperloop train is designed to travel through a vacuum-sealed tube. This technology allows for very high speeds without the aerodynamic drag that is present in traditional trains. The Hyperloop train system would be powered by solar panels on the top of the tube. The energy generated from these panels would also be used to pump air out of the tubes so that trains could travel at high speeds without slowing down due to friction.
Since The Original Concept Came Out
Since then, several companies have been working on building out this infrastructure around the world. They include Virgin Hyperloop One, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), Transpod and Arrivo. In addition, companies like Virgin Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are also working on building out the technology to make this dream a reality. They have developed prototype pods that can travel at speeds of up to 700 mph in a vacuum tube. They hoped to have fully functional Hyperloops built by 2020 or 2021. As often with these highly advanced technologies, that has not happened. (2)
Set Backs: Development
The Hyperloop train, as you have already figured out, has had some setbacks. The first is that the technology has not been perfected, despite the work of hundreds of scientists and engineers. The development of the Hyperloop train is expensive, and there are still many issues that need to be resolved before it can be a viable option for mass transportation. For example, many people have questioned whether or not an underground vacuum tube would be strong enough to support the weight of a train traveling at speeds up to 700 mph.
Requires A Lot Of Space
The second problem is that the Hyperloop train would require a lot of space. If you’re thinking about how many trains could fit inside one vacuum tube, the answer is not many. This means that there would have to be a large number of tubes laid out across cities.
The third issue is that even if all these problems were overcome, there would still be another issue: pricing. The Hyperloop train would be more expensive than traditional methods of transportation, which means that this technology would only be viable if the cost could be brought down.
The fourth problem is that there are many questions surrounding how safe it would actually be. If a train were to break down inside one of these vacuum tubes, then people would not be able to get out quickly enough.
The Bottom Line
While the concept of a Hyperloop train that could cut travel times down to basically no time at all is a nice one, as of now, we are a long way off from it. Scientists still have a lot of work to do in terms of the development of technology. From there, governments and policymakers would need to get involved to build these and create policies surrounding them. Finally, human safety and safety procedures must be developed and implemented. For now, we will just have to imagine how cool a train that fast could be. I guess I won’t be taking a train to Australia after all; at least, not yet.
- “Elon Musk’s hyperloop concept could become the fastest way to travel.” Business Insider. Michelle Yan Huang. July 22, 2021.
- “Is the Hyperloop doomed? Here’s what Elon Musk’s latest setback really means.” Inverse. Andrew Moseman. November 14, 2022.
- “World Map Shows What a Hyperloop Future May Look Like” Inverse. January 16, 2023.